Sorry it's taken me so long to respond to your email. Here goes...
This has been a particularly rough offseason for Angels fans not only because our two biggest free agent players have signed elsewhere, but they have gone to rival teams.
I was reading an article yesterday that was talking about how the Angels didn't make a big push to sign John Lackey when they had a chance last offseason, but I distinctly remember them making the effort to get him to sign an extension, but he was set on testing the market. I also read earlier this week that the offer they had given him was for over $70 million, so not completely off the $85 million that he ended up signing for. I think it was always about money for him. He was going to squeeze every last dime out of his next contract, and that seems to be what ended up happening. I think 5 years for a guy that's already 32 years old is too long. Even Halladay's extension is for only three seasons. I think the Gary Matthews Jr. contract given out several years ago still has them filled with regret to giving out a contract too lengthy for a guy that is on the downside of his prime. This leads to both Vlad and Chone.
I was all for bringing Vladimir Guerrero back, but I'm almost positive that he was looking for something with guaranteed years beyond what the Angels were willing to give him. The guy is already 34 and had a pretty big drop-off this season, albeit, due mostly to injury, but still, I think in two seasons or three he will have a severe drop-off to the point where he will hardly be playing at all. Hideki Matsui is a year older, also has injury problems, but they only signed him for one season. That's the difference and I think the entire reason why they signed him instead. He's also a lefty that provides some balance to the order.
Now that everything has kind of played out with our major guys, Lackey and Figgins, I think the biggest regrets we should probably have concern both Chone Figgins and Roy Halladay. From what I heard, the biggest sticking point for Halladay during the summer was the fact that Blue Jays were supposedly dead-set on getting Erick Aybar, whom we value very highly, but the recent trade for Halladay didn't include any shortstops. Although that may be due to the fact that Toronto's asking price had to come down from asking for the moon and the stars. Still though, we were apparently a major partner in the Halladay talks, we need a front-line starting pitcher, so how in the hell did we miss out on Cliff Lee moving again, also?
With Chone, I think he ended up getting a four-year contract upwards of $40 million, give or take a few million. Why did that seem unreasonable to them? Did they think at the time that they still had a shot at re-signing John Lackey and so that's why they passed up on him? If Lackey had signed before Figgins, would they have made the investment and ponied up and signed him? Maybe. I think it has more to do with the way they value their prospects. They have Brandon Wood whose only option is to come up to the big league level. He has hit his ceiling in the minor leagues and needs a shot to play everyday. They probably thought they would bring him up, find a cheaper alternative in another player (enter Matsui), and explore a trade for another starting pitcher either now or during the regular season. This is the only way any of this makes sense to me. Signing Matsui is purely a DH move, so now we still four guys to rotate through three outfield spots - Abreu, Hunter, Matthews, and Rivera. Matthews has been wanting to go, and sooner or later, we'll be getting rid of him. Unfortunately, we'll probably have to eat much of his contract in a similar way that the Red Sox were going to pay for nine of the $12 million still owed to Mike Lowell if he did end up getting over to the Rangers.
I'm nervous about this upcoming season. Somehow the Mariners transformed into a very serious contender and may even be the favorites now to win the division. This offseason has pretty much played out exactly as I expected it to. You just have to hope that our young guys will continue to step up. Last year we didn't get any major signings, and then Kendry Morales and Erick Aybar had monster seasons, and all of a sudden we were two games away from the World Series. Who will be those guys for us this year? Brandon Wood? Howie Kendrick? Joe Saunders? Jeff Weaver?
My roommate, who works for the rookie team of the Angels, told me last night that Mike Scioscia will be coming in January to speak to the team and to anyone else interested enough to buy tickets, i.e. ME. I think I'm going to ask him about Figgins. If you have anything else you're dying to know, send me your questions.